The Masonic Grand Lodge A.F & A.M of Colorado dedicated a cornerstone plaque Wednesday to Craig Middle School at the school's auditorium. The ceremony usually takes place outdoors, but was moved inside due to rainy weather.

Photo by Shawn McHugh

The Masonic Grand Lodge A.F & A.M of Colorado dedicated a cornerstone plaque Wednesday to Craig Middle School at the school's auditorium. The ceremony usually takes place outdoors, but was moved inside due to rainy weather.

Masons dedicate cornerstone at new Craig Middle School on Wednesday

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Craig Middle School students, teachers and other community members packed the auditorium for Wednesday's cornerstone ceremony. CMS principal Bill Toovey stressed to students the importance of witnessing history in the making.

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Joe Petrone, Moffat County School District superintendent, takes a trowel from Masonic Grand Treasurer Jerry Fenimore, of Littleton, while former district superintendent Pete Bergmann waits his turn to mortar the cornerstone. Petrone, who took over as superintendent in July, thanked those who paved the way for the Wednesday's event.

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Al Shepherd, of American Legion Post 62, applauds the introduction of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Colorado during the cornerstone ceremony at Craig Middle School. Shepherd, along with other members of the American Legion, came to the ceremony to present the colors and support the community.

There is one stone missing in a corner of Craig Middle School, where a new section of brick wall meets the doorway that connects to the old auditorium.

That empty space will soon be filled with a ceremonial plaque from the Masonic Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Colorado, solidifying the connection between the future of the new building and the 60-year history of the old one.

In a ceremony Wednesday afternoon in the middle school auditorium, which Principal Bill Toovey called "a very historic occasion," more than 500 students, teachers, administrators and community members watched as Yampa Lodge 88 helped the Grand Masonic Lodge preside over a ceremony to commemorate the cornerstone.

The project to renovate Craig Middle School is coming to a close as crews work to finish the auxiliary gym and band rooms. All construction will be completed before Jan 1, 2010, school officials said.

Normally the plaque would have been placed on the building during the ceremony, however, rainy weather kept the ceremony indoors.

The Neenan Company, the construction project's general contractor, will place the plaque this afternoon.

Toovey began the ceremony with a story about a meeting with the class of 1949, the first ever students to walk the halls of the old middle school, and one of the first groups to tour the new one.

"They had so much enthusiasm for this building," Toovey said. "It sent a really strong message that we need to make the most of this facility and the education that it can offer."

The masons then described their ceremony, giving the students an outline of the history of the organization and its rituals.

The cornerstone ceremony reaches far back into history, said Dan Gannon of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Colorado.

"The placing of the cornerstone dates back to the beginnings of civilization," he said. "Masons would pick up a rock as big as he could carry, and make sure it was plum, level and square. And, after that, every measurement and scale for the rest of the building was based on that one rock."

Craig Middle School's new cornerstone, a large square plaque, sat on an easel on stage in the auditorium Wednesday.

Although the cornerstone is now decorative, members of the Masonic Lodge think it is a historically significant aspect to building.

In the wall behind the plaque, the masons will include a time capsule for the eyes of future generations.

Brian Cotter, Grand Master of Masons in Colorado, spoke of the legacy of the cornerstone and time capsule.

"It will remind future generations of who we are, who you are, and what was going on at the time this building was created," Connor said to the audience. "It's the enduring evidence of the tirelessness of the community. We put a blessing on those who built this building, and those who will enter its doors."

The time capsule included photos and a roster from the Yampa Lodge, photos from the construction of the new building, a Sept. 29 issue of the Daily Press, a teacher and staff roster, and names of administrators and those who helped pass the bond issue.

The masons then performed ritualistic tests on the plaque to make sure it was a stone that could be laid in accordance with the ancient Masonic traditions.

Masons tested to make sure the rock was square, level and straight, and pronounced it fit to be a part of the school.

Then, a few members of the audience were asked to lay the first ceremonial layers of mortar on the plaque.

Superintendent Joe Petrone, former Superintendent Pete Bergmann and sixth-grader Wyeth Krumrey were given the opportunity to smear mud on the ceremonial plaque, before it was taken by the construction company to be fixed to the building when the weather cleared.

"This is an extraordinary building and learning space for children," Petrone said. "I just came in at the end of this project and was really welcomed by the dedication of this community."

Students were dismissed to their busses halfway through the ceremony. However, Petrone said he was glad they got the chance to witness, and even participate in, part of the ceremony and begin to understand their place in history.

"I think they gained a sense of importance," he said. "They get to see they're being a part of this history, this deep history we have."

Bergmann was part of the new middle school project since its inception and was thrilled to see the final product after years of work.

"It was the first ceremony I've been to and I was really impressed," Bergmann said. "It kind of makes it official. It's great to see this building come to fruition."

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